Mobile Electronics Magazine - July 2020

Page 6

editor’s forum

NEED SOME FACETIME? Nothing can replace face-to-face networking with others in our industry. From the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, we’ve had to give up many things for the sake of our health and the health of others—all with consequences. We have sacrificed much, and hopefully, this will save many lives and eradicate the virus in the end, allowing society to resume normal life. Until then, we must learn to adapt and create our new normal. We have adopted practices based on a bit of science, politics and hopefully some good old common sense. With that, we should all look forward to resuming life aware of the current pandemic. As I look forward to the future of face-to-face events, I am hopeful that those of us who provide them will create innovative ways to enjoy networking, education and the recognition we have come to cherish at the Mobile Electronics Industry Awards. Is there a replacement for face-to-face events? Let us explore some possibilities. When the pandemic started, we at MEA, as well as many manufacturers in our industry, launched webinars. These webinars help keep you connected to your suppliers and provide education and training that may have otherwise been accomplished during a local sales rep visit, distributor show, or regional and national industry events. Let me share from my own experience as a presenter and participant. As a presenter, it’s extremely hard to gauge the audience. Without seeing expressions and body language, it is difficult to know if those listening or watching are attentive and engaged in the presentation. It’s the equivalent of doing a practice presentation in the mirror. Feedback in the form of questions and comments are helpful, but do not replace those in a face-to-face environment. As a participant, my experience can be varied. At times, I am fully engaged with the presentation and sometimes I get distracted or lose focus. I can imagine that those of you at a shop have distractions, as well, in the form of customers. At the start of the pandemic when many shops were either closed or had significantly reduced business, there was plenty of time for webinars and the attendance numbers showed the same. As things opened back up, attendance was reduced along with the number of manufacturers providing webinars. This brings up a question in my mind: How can we return to the valuable facetime we enjoy while mitigating the health risk? Good information will help us make sound decisions As citizens of this great nation, the information we’ve received has varied in accuracy. We can all debate about

6  July 2020

who’s right or wrong, and what is the best source for information. Just open any social media app, and everything runs wild. As for me, I look for good data sources and try to understand how best to protect myself and others. As it relates to retail stores reopening, many of you have figured out a process for which you feel comfortable. Bottom line: It’s your business, and you need to do what you feel is best for you, your team and your customers. Your suppliers have done the same. You may be experiencing less in-person visits from reps and suppliers. I believe many of you would say that those relationships benefit from seeing them in your store— much like you when it comes to seeing your customers in your store. There is no substitute for selling and servicing in-person. So, until we can do this safely, we will all suffer the consequences of separation. Unless we find a way to replace this, we must look to innovative ways to regain this important socialization.

THIS BRINGS UP A QUESTION IN MY MIND: HOW CAN WE RETURN TO THE VALUABLE FACETIME WE ENJOY WHILE MITIGATING THE HEALTH RISK? When will we all be together again? KnowledgeFest Long Beach was a success this past February. Later this year, we should all look forward to seeing one another at an incredibly special event for our industry—KnowledgeFest Dallas. The move to later in the year was strategic. We felt it was the best chance to hold an event we could all enjoy. Yes, I hear the news and review the numbers, and here’s what I can tell you: There are brilliant people creating new ways to allow us to come together at an event, in person, without great risk to our health. You will see these practices in action at KnowledgeFest Dallas, and I would assume also at both SEMA and CES. Industry trade events are important because they provide needed education, networking and facetime with others including your suppliers. These events represent the best our industry has to offer, and just like reopening your store, they will have processes in place to allow all of us to enjoy connecting with each other in a way that can only be accomplished face-to-face. I hope to see you all very soon to celebrate our successes!